Permanent, Waterfast Printing on Fabric, Yes at Last

Issue 5, April 1999
Editor: Sharla R. Hicks
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Note from the Editor added October 1999: A new product called Bubble Jet Set 2000 has turned the inkjet printing on its head with its ability to create permanent printouts on cotton and silk. To check it out, click here.
Note from the Editor added November 2001: As is often the case of evolving technology, now there is a high quality fabric pretreated and ready to run through your printer. For additional information, check out June Tailor Colorfast Printer Fabric, click here.
Note from the Editor for the newletter article of April 1999 below: Over the last year a new development has occurred with some printers. Many are offering waterproof ink that is proving to be very useful for printing on fabric. Below are a couple of the printers using these new permanent inks or waterproofing technology.

Additional Resources and ideas for printing on fabric

  • Krylon used as a fixative for making permanent printouts
    Another resource for good information for printing on fabric for a variety of printers is "The Quilter's Computer Companion" by Judy Heim and Gloria Hansen.  
    Sorry, we have had to removed to links to articles on using , Retayne, or Downy Softener (which turned out to be not very permanent) at because that website is no longer viable and takes all clicks to an offensive website.

Wendy Zozuk from West Lakes, South Australia shares her experiments and successes for printing on Fabric using various Methods including specific instructions for printing on fabric with the Canon Printer 7000 series and its P-POP technology for printing waterfast on plain paper or fabric.

For printing on fabric I have been using a Canon printer (BJC 7000). Printing with this printer is slightly different than fabric printing on other printers. This sounds like an ad for Canon but I have no affiliation with them, except they loaned me one of these babies (BJC 7000) to make my memory quilt.

The main problem with printing on Fabric is colorfastness. I've been testing Canon's printer, it has a special feature which seems to overcome the colourfast problem. (the 7000 series are the only models of Canon printer to have this feature) Canon call it P-POP technology the printer squirts an optimizer/chemical onto the fabric before squirting out the ink - the combo of these makes the printing waterfast on plain paper to 96%.

But that doesn't mean you can't print with other printers - it just means you will need to set the printed fabric somehow to make it colourfast. 

You have three choices that are permanent and colorfast.

1. Print to computer transfer paper and iron on.

2. Photocopy your photos to photo transfer paper and iron them on.

3. Print using Canon's treated fabric sheets - they are made for computers and comes with its own sachet of fixer to make the print permanent. Printing to "normal" fabric will leave you with a noncolourfast item.

I have used the first two products with great success. Though I find Transfer papers alter the handle of the fabric slightly.

There is another method which involves printing directly on fabric using a laser or bubblejet printer, and then spraying with several coats of 'Krylon Workable Fixatif No. 1306' to set the ink. I haven't tried this method, so can't comment on it.

If you do put your fabric through the printer, make sure you back the fabric with something like freezer paper or a manila folder (cut in half - so you only have a single sheet). Cut the fabric slightly smaller than the backing paper, and I like to use sticky tape and stick the fabric to backing paper (manila), making sure the sticky tape covers all the fabric edges. That way I don't have to worry about loose threads getting stuck on my printers head.

For printing on signature squares / labels, you could always put the fabric through the printer as I've described above, then use a permanent marking pen to go over the design. I like this method because my drawing abilities are best suited to tracing.

I came upon the info about the 7000 by accident, when I rang Canon's head office in Adelaide (South Australia) to ask about their fabric sheets -

This information is based on my experience and research only. Best of luck with your printing.


To print on Fabric with the BJC7000 and BJC7100


1) Fabric - any fabric can be used but it can't be wider than the width of a sheet of manila folder.(lightweight card)

2) Use a Manila folder to back the fabric - Roger (the guy from Canon who taught me this) found the best way is to cut a manila folder in half along the fold - giving two single sheets. Or use A4 Certificate paper. I am sure there are plenty of other ways to support the fabric for it's ride through the printer - this is just the way I did it :-)

3) cut out a piece of fabric any size but not larger than your manila folder - I use (8"x 10"),

4) use sticky tape and tape the fabric to the manila sheet - using sticky tape around all the fabric edges seals the edges of the fabric as well as attaches it to the backing sheet and ensures that no threads get onto the printer head


= top of sticky tape
b[____________________________] b

= edge of fabric
c[____________________________] c

= bottom edge of sticky tape

The edge of the manila sheet needs to be straight as this is the guide edge for the printing try not to get sticky tape over this edge.

5) Select "plain Paper" in the menu on the printer setup where it asks for paper types

6) Print

It is a simple as that.
No need to heat set or iron the fabric after printing, just allow to dry naturally, it doesn't take long. The optimizer that the printer lays down on the fabric when you select plain paper chemically alters the ink making it colourfast. (I usually do apply heat using an iron to the printed area of the fabric after it has dried - just to be sure)

When printing I did make one mistake and forgot to make sure the printer was set to print on 'plain paper' the result was a duller image and some bleeding of the dyes into the fabric. All the others that I printed turned out perfectly.

***So the most important thing is to make sure your printer is set for plain paper - even though you are sending fabric through.***

Wendy is developing a web site, which she says still has teething problems, but has some very informative on designing a sewing room, block of the month, and a photo album of her quilts. Be sure to visit

to send a thank you to Wendy, e-mail her at:


Rose Smith shares her experience using her printer, the Lexmark 2050 Printer to create waterfast labels using its Permanent "Black Ink."

Hi everyone...I have been reading about the fabric printing, I have a Lexmark 2050 Printer, and I have been making labels for quite some time and never have had a problem with the washing. The print cartridge for the black comes with the words "super sharp waterproof" written on the cartridge box.

I never have done any in color, but the color cartridge box doesn't say anything about waterproof.


Note from the editor: Other Lexmark printers use the same Black Waterproof Ink, check out your model and print cartridge packaging.


Norma McKone shares her information using Krylon as a fixative to create waterfast labels that can be applied to any Inkjet or laser print out without permanent ink technology.

In 1991 I was living in Maryland and there was a very nice craft/art store that I frequented. I tried printing on fabric using my HP printer for labels for my quilts. I ironed muslin to freezer paper and cut the proper size for sending through the printer. The printer worked fine, but the ink was not permanent and I tried everything I could think of .... ironing with vinegar, pressing with a very hot iron, ect. still was not stable.

Then I ask my friends at the craft shop and they helped me choose a few spray stabilizers for art work. We finally came upon the Krylon Fixative #1306. It was more stable and at least stayed on the fabric through a few washings before fading. We discovered the best method was to wash the muslin first for best ink penetration, print with your Inkjet, use several light coats of Krylon, letting dry between and then press from the paper side. After that you can remove the paper and press on the back and then on the front side. If you have not let it dry completely (overnight is good) you might smear the ink with the iron. This is not perfect, but
it is the best method I have used. I shared it with my online friends and there have been some variations with the new technology and printers. If the ink is water soluble in your printer, it will be more difficult to get a permanent result. Good luck.

Quilters Dream Cotton Batting-Mega Sheen & YLI Silk & Qltg thread-Wallet pattern
Creekside Needleworks web page:


"The Quilter's Computer Companion" by Judy Heim and Gloria Hansen is a must have book for those interested in creating images with printers to be used in quilting!


by Sharla Hicks

When I was pulling together this section on Printing on fabric, bells began going off. I again went to my trusty book of all treasures for computer quilters, "The Quilter's Computer Companion" by Judy Heim and Gloria Hansen. I continue to be amazed by the quantity and quality of information they include in the book. Printing the image often is not enough, the best print outs are accomplished by knowing the limitations and pluses of printing on fabric.

One limitation is the cost printing on fabric using inkjet cartridges that can cost between $25 - $30 and rising. So Gloria and Judy give you food for thought about what technique or method you might want to choose. They include extensive information on every technique imaginable from using T-Shirt Transfer Sheets, Fabric Sheets, Photo Transfer Sheets, Color Copy from a copier machine, to techniques using dye fixatives for setting your water soluble inkjet inks and laser printer toner, most of which still are not waterproof. Hopefully this continues to change as we have seen with the two printers mentioned above.


Judy and Gloria include quality, much needed information to create a high quality image before you even start the printing process. Your print out will never be any better than the quality of your image BEFORE it is printed! They include hints and tips on adjusting ink saturation, DPI (dots per inch) for scanning, programs that are helpful for adjusting photo scans, mirroring, color adjustments, the best formats to use for the image and much more. This really is the Bible to get you started on Fabric Printing for quilts.

They include information on novelty techniques like using your printer to create stencils and negatives for fabric painting, sun printing and blue printing.

This book also includes excellent information on a wide variety of programs for both graphic and quilt software that can be used to create images for quilters. The book includes information on using both the PC and the MAC (not users are not left out in this book you have equal coverage) with the following: CorelDRAW, Canvas, SuperPaint, Quilt-Pro, and Electric Quilt. The best part of about this information is that even though it might be specific to certain programs, they all have a similar operating base so you can always take the information to other graphical programs and with a little hunting and tweaking create fabric images in almost any program. Judy and Gloria have laid the ground work now you become the explorer!

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